If you’re an anime purist, you’ve probably watched at least one title with a localization choice that rubbed you the wrong way. Maybe you were irked by Sailor Moon’s Usagi being called “meatball head” on American TV instead of “dango/dumpling head.” More recently, you might have wondered why Doraemon’s central family ditched all their chopsticks and now eat their Japanese food with forks in their U.S. appearances.
But localization runs in the other direction, too, and it’s just come to light that Pixar has altered part of the artwork in several scenes of "Inside Out" solely for the film’s Japanese release this month.
Let’s try a little experiment. What comes to mind when you hear the word “rice omelet?” Before coming to Japan, I would have thought, “That sounds like about the cheapest, least satisfying meal you could make, and is surely something only eaten by the poorest or laziest college students.” In Japan, though, rice omelets (which are actually made from more than just rice and eggs) are a favorite of kids across the country, and often bring up happy memories of Mom’s delicious home-cooking. Ditto for curry, which for many in Japan is as evocative of their childhood home as it is of India.
In other words, culinary connotations differ between nations, and so Disney and Pixar were a little worried about all the scenes in "Inside Out" where its protagonist, 11-year-old Riley, is faced with the difficult challenge of having to eat a plate of broccoli. To just about any American moviegoer, “broccoli” is effective shorthand for “vegetable widely hated by kids,” but in Japan, the healthy foodstuff doesn’t really have that same image.
It’s not that Japanese kids are all about eating their vegetables, but rather that broccoli isn’t nearly as prevalent in home-made meals as it is in the U.S., and so it’s not a symbol of being pressured by your parents and having only limited control over your own life. So in order to get the same, instantly recognizable frame of reference for Japanese audiences, "Inside Out’s" producers looked into what Japanese kids do hate being served by their parents, and what they found was… green peppers, called "piman" in Japanese.
Pixar could have just switched every mention of “broccoli” in the dialogue to “piman” and called it a day, but instead, the studio went back and changed all images of the former to the latter. This was no minor task, given the number of scenes in which broccoli can be seen in the original version. Still, producers felt it was the right thing to do, and a Disney rep says the decision was made in order to help Japanese audiences better relate to and enjoy the film.
Like many films with kids in their target market, "Inside Out" is being theatrically released in Japan in both Japanese-dubbed and subtitled formats. The change from broccoli to peppers is only present in the dubbed version, which also contains altered signs, newspapers, and other bits of text where Japanese replaces English. The subtitled version’s visuals, meanwhile, are identical to the original version.
If you’re the suspicious type, you could argue that the discrepancies between the two versions are a savvy ploy designed to get fans to watch the movie twice, and thus buy two tickets, in order to get the complete experience. The switch to peppers does make sense from a storytelling standpoint, though, and even as it brushes aside a chance for Japanese audiences to learn a little bit about other cultures, it’s not hard to see why "Inside Out’s" producers went the way they did.
Now, if someone could explain whose idea it was to change the movie’s title to "Inside Head" in Japan.
Source: Cinema Today
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